Happy Easter


We are drawn to children, saints and poets because they see things we have forgotten to see.”

John Ortberg

A child’s simple trusting faith, unencumbered by adult interpretation, Jeremy’s Egg is a story I’ve shared at Easter for the past few years. Poignantly portraying Easter’s meaning in way few sermons have, may it bless you as it has me.

He is Risen! . . . Risen is He! . . . Happy Easter!

Jeremy’s Egg

Ida Mae Kemple

Jeremy was born with a twisted body, a slow mind and a chronic terminal illness that had been slowly killing him all his young life.  Still, his parents had tried to give him as normal a life as possible and sent him to St. Theresa’s Elementary School.

At the age of 12, Jeremy was only in second grade, seemingly unable to learn.  His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him.  He would squirm in his seat, drool and make grunting noises.

At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain.  Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher.  One day, she called his parents and asked them to come to St. Theresa’s for a consultation.

As the Forresters sat quietly in the empty classroom, Doris said to them, “Jeremy really belongs in a special school.  It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’t have learning problems.  Why, there is a five-year gap between his age and that of the other students!

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue while her husband spoke.  “Miss Miller,” he said, “there’s no school of that kind nearby.  It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school.  We know he really likes it here.

Doris sat for a long time after they left, staring at the snow outside the window.  Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul.  She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters.  After all, their only child had a terminal illness.  But it wasn’t fair to keep him in her class.  She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy would be a distraction.  Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write.  Why waste any more time trying?

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her.  “Oh God,” she said aloud, “here I am complaining, when my problems are nothing compared with that poor family!  Please help me be more patient with Jeremy.

From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares.  Then one day he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him.

I love you Miss Miller,” he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear.  The other students snickered, and Doris’s face turned red.  She stammered, “Wh – why, that’s very nice, Jeremy.  Now please take your seat.

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter.  Doris told them the story of Jesus, and to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg.  “Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life.  Do you understand?

Yes, Miss Miller!” the children responded enthusiastically –  all except Jeremy.  He just listened intently; his eyes never left her face.  He did not even make his usual noises.

Had he understood what she had said about Jesus’s death and resurrection?  Did he understand the assignment?  Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them.

That evening, Doris’s kitchen sink stopped up.  She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it.  After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day.  She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents.

The next morning 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk.  After they had completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs.

In the first egg, Doris found a flower.  “Oh, yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life,” she said.  “When plants peek through the ground, we know that Spring is here.”  A small girl in the first row waved her arm.  “That’s my egg, Miss Miller,” she called out.

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real.  Doris held it up.  “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly.  Yes, that is new life, too.”  Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Miss Miller, that one is mine!

Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it.  She explained that moss, too, showed life.  Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom.  “My daddy helped me!” he beamed.

Then Doris opened the fourth egg.  She gasped.  The egg was empty!  Surely it must be Jeremy’s, she thought, and, of course, he did not understand the instructions.  If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents.  Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.

Suddenly Jeremy spoke up.  “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?

Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy –  your egg is empty!”  He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’s tomb was empty too!

Time stopped.  When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?

Oh, yes!” Jeremy exclaimed.  “Jesus was killed and put in there.  Then his Father raised him up!

The recess bell rang.  While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried.  The cold inside her melted completely away.

Three months later Jeremy died.  Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.

 “Let the little children to come to me, and do not hinder the, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14

Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!

Good Friday


Today is Good Friday, and the church marquee reads, “When He was on the cross, you were on His mind”.

I’ll never comprehend how Divinity’s infinite love willing chose to pursue my sullied mortality to an excruciating death on a cross. I can only accept it and forever praise Him for it.

At breakfast with two brothers yesterday I shared this true story which testifies that no matter peaceful or troubled life finds us; close or distant in our faith; sane or troubled in mind, from the genesis of Creation; to a straw manger bed; to a cross on Calvary; to this very moment and throughout eternity, we remain ever in His incomprehensible love and on His mind.

May this Good Friday find you blessed and filled with thankful praise.

Searching for the Invisible God – Phillip Yancey

My wife leads a weekly “Christian circle” at a nursing home.  An Alzheimer’s patient named Betsy faithfully attends, led there by a staff worker, and sits there through the hour.  Betsy is slender, with snow-white hair, blue eyes, and a pleasant smile.  Every week Janet introduces herself, and every week Betsy responds as if she’s never seen her before.  When other people interact in the group or laugh at some little joke, Betsy smiles a distant, disarming smile.  Mostly she sits quietly, vacant-eyed, enjoying the changing scenery from her room but comprehending nothing of the discussion going on around her.

After a few weeks, Janet learned that Betsy has retained the ability to read.  Often, she carries with her a postcard her daughter sent her several months before, which she pores over as if it came in yesterday’s mail.  She has no comprehension of what she’s reading and will repeat the same line over and over, like a stuck record, until someone prompts her to move on.  But on a good day she can read a passage straight through in a clear, strong voice.  Janet began calling on her each week to read a hymn.

One Friday the senior citizens, who prefer older hymns they remember from childhood, selected The Old Rugged Cross” for Betsy to read.  “On a hill far away stands an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame,” she began, and stopped.  She suddenly got agitated.  “I can’t go on!  It’s too sad!  Too sad!” she said.  Some of the seniors gasped.  Others stared at her, dumbfounded.  In years of living at the home, not once had Betsy shown the ability to put words together meaningfully.  Now, obviously, she did understand.

Janet calmed her: “That’s fine Betsy.  You don’t have to keep reading if you don’t want to.” 

After a pause, though, she started reading again, and stopped at the same place.  A tear made a trail down each cheek.  “I can’t go on! It’s too sad!” she said, unaware she had said the same thing two minutes ago.  She tried again, and again reacted with the sudden shock of recognition, grief, and the exact same words.

Since the meeting had drawn to a close, the other seniors gradually moved away, heading for the cafeteria or their rooms.  They moved quietly, as if in church, glancing over their shoulders in awe at Betsy.  Staff workers who had come to rearrange the furniture stopped in their tracks and stared.  No one had ever seen Betsy in a state resembling lucidity.

The church marquee reads, “When He was on the cross, you were on His mind”. Today is Good Friday. I’ll never comprehend how Divinity’s infinite love willing chose to pursue my sullied mortality to death on a cross. I can only accept it and forever praise Him for it.

At breakfast with two brothers yesterday I shared this true story which testifies that no matter peaceful or troubled life finds us; close or distant in our faith; sane or troubled in mind, from the genesis of Creation; to a straw manger bed; to an old, rugged cross on Calvary; to this very moment and throughout eternity,  we remain ever in His incomprehensible love and on His mind.

May this Good Friday find you blessed and filled with thankful praise.

Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!

Soul Restoration


My Creator placed a lone Mallard, on waters tinged gold in the sunset, to restore my soul tonight.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me besides the still waters. He restoreth my soul.” – Psalm 23:1-3

I M Blessed . . . May U B 2

 

Water Sports – Then and Now


In Yester-Years water sports consisted of high energy, adrenaline charged high-diving, water-skiing, scuba-diving, etc. In Latter-Years water sports have gradually consolidated into a more relaxed, less strenuous venue of tranquil water-watching. Here’s a couple pics of how it’s done by a couple of ‘ole’ folks

The good news . . . while I’m older today than I ever was before, I’m younger today than I’ll ever be again

The really Good News . . .

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and will carry you; I will  and rescue you.” – Isaiah 46:4

Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!

Bald River Falls – Tellico Plains, TN

‘Ole’ Folks Water Watching

Sunset Promise


Life’s storms are inevitable. Watching our Creator brush His sunset masterpiece across the heavens nurtured the thought . . . magnificent sunsets are cast on cloudy skies.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poetic words sealed my peace . . . “Every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn.”

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handywork. – Psalm 19:1

Sinister Symbols


The “Z” seen displayed on Russian war machinery comes from the preposition “Za,” the first word in the Russian phrase “Za pobedu” or “For victory” . . . may it never be!

A crossed  Z” is a sinister reminder of another tyrannical despot’s symbol . . .

whose Nazi armies and allies systematically slaughtered 11 million souls . . . 6 million Jews and 5 million other victims . . . during the Holocaust between 1941 and 1945, before he cowardly committed suicide in defeat.

Please continue to remember Ukraine, its people, its armies, and its leaders in your prayers, believing . . .

Actions in heaven begin when some prays on earth.”

Max Lucado

Tears of War


Ukrainian Child

I’m not particularly savvy regarding international diplomacy; politically astute; or a warmonger. However, … if this were your child … would you“…risk provoking a widening war…”  by sending jets for Ukrainian pilots to defend their country’s skies against a tyrannical despot bully who unconscionably shells and bombs women and children in their homes, schools, hospitals, and as they attempt to peacefully depart along ‘promised’ humanitarian corridors?

Bullies thrive and survive on instilling fear, and only back down when fearlessly confronted.

Please pray for Ukraine and its vulnerable children.  The fully vetted organization in the following link is directly involved in providing for their many needs, and can be entrusted with donated funds for them to continue doing so:

https://www.savethechildren.org/us/where-we-work/ukraine

NOLA


NOLA, my wife’s hometown, is definitely an ’interesting’ place . . . a cuisine delight . . . lively entertaining . . . awash with a menagerie of ‘colorful’ characters. However, it’s not a place I’d personally chose as a permanent address, ‘seniorly’ grateful we weren’t here for last week’s Mardi Gras festivities 😊.

Yesterday we enjoyed a breakfast at Brennan’s in the French Quarter. One of their signature dishes is Bananas Foster in which the server sets aflame the rum-soaked fruit prior to serving . . . a delectable arsonist’s joy 😊.

Our mini-vacation here has been somewhat bittersweet, ever aware the Ukrainian people continue to face escalating warfare on the freedom of their homeland. Please continue to remember these persecuted brave souls in your prayers.

       
Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!

NOLA Evening
Bananas Foster
Eggs Benedict
Breakfast @ Brennan’s
Mardi Gras aftermath

Day’s Finale


All things . . . save God . . . must end.

Of all endings, among my favorites are the unique masterpieces our omnipotent Creator chooses brush across the heavens at day’s end. Here’s a few of His sunset sketches from yesterday’s gallery.

Please continue to remember Ukraine in your prayers.             

Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!

Footprints


As waves gently lapped at my feet, these footprints in the sand . . . soon to be forever erased by the surf . . . caused my mind wander . . . Who just said, “So what’s new?” 😊

Etched in the sand was a journal of two people who passed  by each other …

. Did they exchange a greeting . . . a smile . . . or just pass by in silence?

. Were their souls content, immersed in the beauty surrounding them . . . or quietly struggling with some issue?

. How many people did I passed by today who perhaps a greeting of smile may have somehow encouraged a smidgen?

Not that we should all strive to be over-the-top extroverts, but have you ever had a ‘tinge’ of  . . . I Shouda’, Woulda’ Coulda’ . . . said something to that person, or at least tossed a smile their way to perhaps inspire their day a tad?  . . . I have, but that moment has now been washed away by life’s waves.

So today I vow to be more sensitive to those making footprints in the sand strolling the beach with me, should I sense that ‘tinge’ to share a greeting or smile with.

The risk is facing an annoyed, “What’s up with you Dude?” glance . . . but at least my ‘tinge’ will have been satisfied 😊

Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!